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What’s the Difference Between Open Source vs. Closed Source?

Often internet users who own businesses on the internet face the problem when choosing software – open source vs. closed source.

Unfortunately, the choice is not so simple and obvious. Both of them have pluses and minuses.

For example, open source software is freely available for use on the net. Everyone can see, use, or change it as they wish. Above all, a user can delete it from the public access.

Why is it so accessible to change? Because it is continually being updated, improved, and even expanded so that more people can participate in its development.

In contrast, closed source software restricts access to the source code. The only person who can view it is the developer or author of the source.

What’s the difference between them? The main difference is that you need to buy add-ons for open source software and to make payments to use closed source software.

However, this is not the only thing that distinguishes these two types of code. Today we’ll talk about the main gaps between open source versus closed source and compare them in 5 main aspects: cost, service, security, usability, and availability.

Do you like articles that compare different popular systems and technologies? Read one of them. We’ve prepared an actual comparison of Centralized vs Decentralized Network: What’s Better For Your Security?

What is open source?

OSS or open source software – is software that has been implemented under the rules of a license agreement which allows the code to be used, viewed, or modified by other users or organizations.

software for business open system definition

In simple terms, the open source code is in the public domain. Any internet user can make some edits to its structure online free of charge. They don’t need to be in a specific location to do this. Everything happens remotely, from anywhere in the world.

Such an open system allows the source code to be improved over time. Thanks to constant changes, the source’s structural and technical components are modified, and new forms and elements of the code appear.

Theoretically, the internet should be built on open code because each user can then develop and improve the entire system.

However, in practice open source code is more vulnerable to security issues, and it is subjected to hacker attacks more often than a closed one.

What is closed source?

Closed source software or CSS is implemented under the rules of a license agreement which allows only authorized users or organizations to access or modify the source code. In any other case, modification of the structural component of the code is impossible without permission.

In simple terms, CSS is not intended for extensive audience modification. Usually, large companies use such a system to protect their products and maintain control over the market.

Look at Apple vs. Android as an example. Can you guess where the creators have used open source and where they have used closed source?

The main differences between open source vs closed source

Above, we have already given you a spoiler that we will analyze the main differences based on 5 main aspects:

  • price
  • security
  • support
  • availability
  • usability

There will be both positive and negative sides to each system. We’ll also tell you where it is better to use open source software and where closed source is best. 

open source versus closed source

All data is based on Sam Saltis’s article.

1. Price

The main benefit of open source is the price. Generally, it is absolutely free software. The only thing that may require a fee is for add-on features of software to implement and maintain the system.

On the other hand, closed source is paid software with a high degree of price variation. As a rule, the price variation depends on the package of functional and support perks.

2. Security

The issue of source security should be taken seriously. There are two sides to this – the good side and the bad side – for both types of software.

As open source code is open to modifications, changes, and views, it can be automatically improved by each user. However, this accessibility leads to the fact that the code becomes attractive to hackers who practice their skills on it.

Since closed source code can only be modified by users with private access, all errors are corrected by the support service in case of software drawbacks. This method is more secure compared to open source, but it can also lead to users putting up with glitches or poor performance for long periods of time before the problem gets fixed.

Did you hear about zero trust model to ensure your internet security? Read the article Modern Times Security: What’s Zero Trust Model?, and follow the existent trend to protect yourself on the net.

3. Support

From the previous paragraph, you can understand that closed source provides each user with support service communication and consultation. In other words, this type of software is more user-friendly and geared towards user support. Such a service resolves any questions that arise in the shortest time.

closed source benefits

The open source systems do not typically have support services. Where can you find actual data about the working process and technical drawbacks? You need to use the internet for that. You can find various articles on specific themes, appropriate support forums, and freelance experts. Unfortunately, you can rarely expect an adequate solution to the problem.

4. Availability

As you remember, open source assumes that you can make changes to the code structure without limits. In this way, the system improves and develops new approaches to functionality.

Closed source is more protected from prying eyes. If somebody wants to view it, the user should get special permission or be authorized. Without these measures, the user cannot see or make any changes to the source. Above all, it is an additional layer of security.

5. Usability

Usability is a sticking point for open source systems. The manuals and guidance for using such a system are written for developers, not ordinary users. Therefore, it is tough to read and understand them.

On the other hand, manuals for closed source are ideal for parsing and understanding, they are usually widely available and well-written. This is much to the benefit of ordinary users.

Closing thoughts

There is no clear answer to the question of which type of software to choose.

Everyone decides for themselves what to use based on their requirements, their need for modification and their experience with software.

We hope that you will make the right choice for your needs!

2 COMMENTS
Anon
2 weeks ago

> There is no clear answer to the question of which type of software to choose.

Any company that won’t discuss its algorithms or protocols has something to hide. There’s no other possible reason. (And don’t let them tell you that it is patent-pending; as soon as they file the patent, they can discuss the technology. If they’re still working on the patent, tell them to come back after they can make their technology public.) – Bruce Schneier

Matthew Turner
2 weeks ago

“Good afternoon! Thank you for your feedback. Since there are many disputes and opinions on this topic, we allow everyone to choose independently.

Unfortunately, you don’t understand the issue you’re arguing about. We agree that this is a sophisticated theme that requires discussion. On the one hand, developers do not disclose the code because everyone can make mistakes, break the system’s stability, and steal unique developments. After all, we all know that there are haters who are ready to do anything to ruin the system. But they can’t patent them, because the developers don’t disclose their names, so they don’t get pressured by the government. It means that they will not be able to make a patent and defend their rights in court because they are anonymous.”

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